Honour for ex-city man
Founder of Myeloma Canada, Timmins native receives meritorious service medal
The co-founder of Myeloma Canada, who happens to be a Timmins native, has been honoured for his dedicated service to the Canadian myeloma community.
Aldo Del Col received the Meritorious Service Medal from the Right Honourable Julie Payette at Rideau Hall in Ottawa this week.
According to a release issued by Myeloma Canada, “Every day, eight Canadians are diagnosed with myeloma, an increasingly prevalent but relatively unknown cancer of the plasma cells.
“Aldo Del Col was diagnosed with myeloma in 2002 – a time when there was little disease awareness, limited treatment options and even fewer resources for Canadians looking for support and information. Instead of allowing the disease to negatively impact him, he used his diagnosis to make a difference by creating a community to serve the needs of Canadians impacted by myeloma.”
Multiple myeloma, commonly referred to as myeloma, can cause several serious health problems affecting the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count, with some of the more common symptoms including bone pain, recurring infections and fatigue, a symptom of anemia.
The Meritorious Service Medal, presented to Del Col, was created by Queen Elizabeth II in 1984, as a means of recognizing outstanding level of service to the community.
In Del Col’s case, he established a national organization for all Canadians directly or indirectly impacted by multiple myeloma.
Del Col “was stunned when he learned he had myeloma, an incurable, but treatable cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow,” according to the release. “Diagnosed at 48 years of age, he was understandably distraught when he was given three to five years to live. After the initial shock passed, Aldo became motivated to learn as much as he could about this relatively unknown cancer. Alarmingly, he discovered there was limited information and no Canadian-specific resources.
“It quickly became clear to Aldo there was an unmet need to support and empower the myeloma community in Canada. This drove Aldo’s vision to create a patientdriven, patient-focused, grassroots organization to foster community engagement, provide educational programs, raise awareness, advocate for access to new treatments and support Canadian myeloma research.”
His vision led to the founding of Myeloma Canada, a national nonprofit organization aimed at focusing on the unique needs of the Canadian myeloma community.
“When I was diagnosed with myeloma, disease information and treatment options were limited,” said Del Col. “I identified a need for an integrated national grassroots organization to support others impacted by this devastating disease, to learn about myeloma and to reassure them they were not alone. I wanted to encourage hope and a positive outlook for the future for others living with this little-known cancer. It’s vital to have a national platform to make a real difference in the lives of patients and caregivers, reminding them they aren’t alone.”
More recently, Del Col also cofounded the Myeloma Canada Research Network (MCRN) – the first and only national academic research group bringing together Canada’s leading myeloma investigators from coast to coast. Working in collaboration with Myeloma Canada, the MCRN drives investigator-initiated Canadian research focused on optimizing patient outcomes, through collaboration and sharing of expertise across 20 centres in Canada.
Dr. Donna Reece, director of the Program for Multiple Myeloma and Related Diseases at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Chief Medical Officer for the Myeloma Canada Research Network, said, “Aldo’s determination in creating an inclusive and collaborative foundation to bring together all stakeholders from across Canada has been truly transformative.
“A testament to Aldo’s vision to foster cooperation is the unique partnership between Myeloma Canada and the Myeloma Canada Research Network, which unites patients and doctors in their shared goal of advancing homegrown research and improving overall outcomes,” Reece added.
Martine Elias, executive director of Myeloma Canada, said Del Col “is an inspiration to the Canadian myeloma community. From travelling coast to coast and internationally to share his story, engaging with those living with the disease, encouraging conversations on disease experience, promoting patient-focused research, advocating for access to new treatments – he is a true Canadian hero and deserving of this honourable award. A firm believer in collaboration, he continues to connect and facilitate the dialogue between the research community, medical experts, the pharmaceutical industry, government officials and the patient community to improve patient outcomes.”
Myeloma Canada Scientific Roundtable held annually in Montreal brings together leading myeloma researchers, doctors, patients and industry partners.
Over and above his work with Myeloma Canada and the MCRN, Del Col contributes to several other organizations and committees. He is a member of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) Hematology
Executive Committee and the CCTG Molecular Tumour Board. This past spring, he was presented with an Award of Appreciation in recognition of his outstanding dedication to the Canadian Cancer Trials Group.
Internationally, Del Col serves on the board of directors of the International Myeloma Foundation and is an active contributor to the Global Myeloma Action Network and member of the International Myeloma Society. He was recently named Member Emeritus of the Ontario College of Pharmacists in recognition of his work as a community pharmacist. He also continues his volunteer work for Hope and Cope at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.
For more information about multiple myeloma, resources and support, visit myeloma.ca.
Aldo Del Col, a Timmins native, was presented this week with the Meritorious Service Medal for establishing a national organization for all Canadians impacted by multiple myeloma, an incurable, but treatable cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.